19-21 Oct 2016 - Aki 7s - Cyprus
So a few of us managed to get out to Cyprus for the Aki 7’s and what a great time it was. Yours truly becoming the butt of some of the jokes when I innocently said...(as I was told that the runway was closed at night due to them re-tarmacing)...“that there was no flying at night and the noise that everyone could hear was the tarmac machines”. “Since when do tarmac machines take off...with reheat?” I was asked. I found out on the last day that only half of the runway was closed...anyways, onto the tournament.
Game 1 – Real So So Bad Pre-game, Matt made a human tactics board to talk through the game...I got lost at the Dusty Bin tactics...3-2-1, so I went for a burger. Straight from the kick off Scott Taylor made a great save and another RSSB attack saw the chance put wide after a cross in from the right. The first RAF attack saw the ball land at the feet of Neil Thomas who, from 25 yards out, let fly into the bottom corner...1-0!! The RAF were keeping the opposition to shooting from distance and most of their attempts were going wide though Scotty was called upon to make another good save. HT 1-0 The second half saw some good build up play by the RAF and a break down the right saw the ball pulled back to Russ but his shot hit the bar and flew over. The RAF were in control now and a run from young Mike Bartley down the right then saw him cut inside and hit an unstoppable shot with his left foot from the edge of the box...2-0. It was all RAF but then Scotty handled outside of the box and the free kick was given. The wall did its job however and then the final whistle. Great start.
Game 2 – 1 Lancs High spirits going into the game but the Lancs lads were a typical Army side. Aged between 19 and 30 and can run all day, this was going to be a toughie. The first shot was by the army side but was from distance and went harmlessly wide. Great control by Thommo set up Mike B who skins defender only to have the ball nicked of his toe but the corner is won. Nothing comes of it. A strong tackle by Alan Dales sets up another RAF attack but Thommo fires wide and then Mike B forces the Lancs keeper into a brilliant save. The RAF are looking good here against this army side and when Mike B is brought down on the edge of the box, Thommo has another chance. Unfortunately he fires high over...Coutinho he is not!! The game was about to change however... Thommo gets clobbered with a horrible tackle that could have broken his leg. Luckily he managed to jump up but as we all know, what goes up must come down. He came down on top of the army lad who instantly jumped up and had a go. The referee, for whatever reason, sent Thommo off stating that he’d stamped on the 1 Lancs player whilst insisting that the yellow for the army was sufficient “because he didn’t actually butt Thommo” (His words!!). What made it even worse then was that he then said Thommo’s “stamp” wasn’t violent conduct and it was only a two match ban!!
The army lads then get a lucky break against the 6 man RAF and take the lead. HT 0-1
If we thought it might be tough before the game, it got tougher in the second half. They scored straight from kick off 0-2 and then after a great save from Scotty the ball fell to one of their players 0-3. What happened next had everyone laughing despite the score. Alan Dales runs to close down their attacker only to be turned inside out and to hear him shout “Oh, he’s done me”...class!! There followed a shot from 40yds and whoosh...it flew into the top corner. That was it 0-4
Game 4 – Shadwell Al Dales does a turn that had the Kirov ringing to enquire as to his availability but the pass after it was pants. Suddenly the ref gives Shadwell a penalty...no one knows why. Questions are asked from the line but the referee then threatens to abandon the game if there is any abuse from the side lines...OMG, it used to be called banter when I was in!! Anyway they scored it 0-1. A great passage of play by the RAF then saw a lovely one two between Russ and Mike B and unluckily, the ball rebounded to safety off the post. HT 0-1.
The second half started unluckily again, when Mike B saw his free kick fly back off the bar and despite a lot of RAF pressure the finish was lacking and then... the ball was won in midfield and a superb ball by Russ saw a superb strike from Mike B hit the roof of the net. 1-1. Unfortunately the was no more time left and the final whistle went with the RAF deserving a lot more.
Game 5 – Aki Legends A drag back and the drive sees the keeper save and then the ball is headed off the line following an RAF free kick. Mally Mallinson shepherds an attacker down the right but he manages to get a cross in but a good angle from Scotty forces the striker to fire wide. Scotty saves again from their next attack and from the resultant corner, Dougie Coull heads to safety. Unfortunately, Jon Letch then loses the ball in midfield and the breakaway results in a goal. 0-1. There was almost an instant equaliser but again the ball was cleared off the line. Al D then puts in a great cross and yep, you’ve guessed it, Mike B was on the end of it to make it to make it 1-1 at HT.
A dribble in the RAF box sees the ball land at the feet of an unmarked Legends player and it’s in 1-2. The rest of the game was end to end with both sides creating, and missing, a number of chances. Game over.
Day 1 finishes with a number of injuries, some great goals, some great memories and lots of talking points but hey ho...meze night tonight and a few beers...”Play up Air Force”.
Game 6 – St Johns
The local Cypriot police side have a Cyprus international in their ranks...I’ll tell you later how good he was. Kick off and with everyone shouting “keep the ball” Al D passes to the opposition and 2 passes later...0-1. Things got worse after only 3 minutes when the Cypriots waltzed upfield and it’s 0-2. Mark Browse, who had only arrived this morning, then damaged a thigh and was out of the tournament...4 minutes into his tenure as a player!! Could things get worse?...YES!! St Johns got a penalty after Thommo, who was back after his suspension, handled on the line and he was off again, another 1 match ban. The referees are very strict here...that would have smashed him in the face and in an effort to save his good looks he lifted his arms for protection. Come on refs...use the cards in context please!! 0-3. If that wasn’t bad enough, The RAF are playing today as if they’ve never met and I think the sun is affecting the players as the light blue of the RAF obviously looks like the white of St Johns as we keep passing to them. HT 0-3.
The second half is all St Johns but they just can’t convert but after a run and shot by Mike B, St Johns go down the other end at it’s four. 0-4. The Cypriots are playing some really nice football and today is just not our day so far. The Cypriots make it five but immediately Mike B strikes a beauty to make it 1-5...is the comeback on? Aaaaargh the ref blows for full time.
Game 7 – JLS The group?...no, but 30 seconds in they dance around our defence and make it 0-1. A free kick by the RAF sees the shot saved and he saves again from the resultant corner. A quick break then sees Scotty called into action at the other end. Pass and move pays dividends for JLS just on half time when they extend their lead making it HT 0-2.
Second half and Scotty gets his hand to a screamer from 8 yards but he can’t keep it out 0-3 and then Mike B shoots narrowly wide. Penalty to RAF!! Handball in the box and Mike B steps up to make it 1-3. Unfortunately, the ref decides to even it up and awards JLS a penalty. Scotty walks up to the taker and tells him “no pressure I’m not really a keeper” and the result is...confirmed as the ball hits the back of the net for the fourth.
Game 8 – Odiham The local derby...the Odiham lads are staying in the same block as us. Today’s normal service is resumed when the RAf concede after 4 minutes 0-1. Thommo then has a shot from 20yds that put the corner flag in more danger than the back of the net and to compound it...Odiham come straight up the other end and make it 0-2. From the restart, Thommo hits it from the half way line and it hits the post...that would have been a cracker!! Two good chances then from Thommo and Dougie are both saved by the keeper and then another break and it’s 0-3. Twinkle toes Coull then gets into the box and only a last ditch tackle sees the score remain the same. Al D then hit the bar direct from a corner. Russ then fired wide and then had a shot superbly saved before a brilliant tackle by Letchy had the crowd cheering and they cheered even more when Al D let the ball under his foot from Letchy’s pass and out for a throw in. Despite the score this was a game played in great spirits by both sides. Russ got a “ta ra” wave from the Odiham centre half as he was skinned down the wing and the cross that came in had to be hit and was...0-4. It’s not long till another and its five!! Then, and it had to be seen to be belief and just kept going, ball at his feet. He then crossed for Russ to tap in and it’s 1-5. Full Time.
End of Day 2 and more new signings and more injuries but hey ho again...it’s Limassol tonight and a lovely meal in the Ship Inn. Tomorrow must be better and it’s finals day. Our luck has to change...”Play Up Air Force”
Game 9 – Dhekelia Scotty was asked to lose the toss but as was our luck, we couldn’t even get that right. That said, after Dhekelia kick off, we get the ball, attack and win a corner. Letchy swings it in and Dougie leaps like a salmon to nod home...Get in 1-0. Dhekelia come back strongly and a fingertip save from Scotty keeps the RAF ahead. More good work by the RAF sees another shot by Mike B but it’s narrowly wide. Dhekelia then break and the striker chips the advancing keeper and it’s 1-1. The youngsters of Dhekelia are looking stronger now and another shot finds the back of the net. HT1-2.
It’s end to end stuff in the second half with the youngsters playing the ball upfield one way whilst the RAF are hoofing it upfield the other way. A great tackle by Thommo in his own box sees the ball played to Dougie who darts down the wing. He passes inside and a Letchy step over sees the ball arrive at the left foot of Brian Kyall. Bry lets fly from 30 yards...stunner...BOOM 2-2!! Dhekelia come back but fire over. This is not going to plan but then a great run from their winger sees the ball crossed in and it’s 2-3. There was just enough time for Al D to flick the ball over a defender and hit a a sweet volley just wide. Game over.
Game 10 – Salt Lake Final game of the Round Robin. Good hold up play by Mike B who then plays in Thommo but his shot flies over. Salt Lake then hit the post and from the follow up, Scotty saves. Free kick to the RAF which Thommo puts into the woods but then a great tackle by Mally sees the ball break free. Russ feeds Thommo who then finds Mike B and the tap in makes it 1-0. Half Time.
The second half is going the way of the RAF when Mike B fires at the keeper after cutting in from the right. Another break down the right sees Mike B force the ball past the keeper from a tight angle and it’s 2-0. When Dales goes down after a collision and Thommo gets megged in the corner the crowd roar with laughter but that’s ok as Salt Lake don’t look like scoring at all. The RAF are tight at the back and are using the full pitch when on the attack. Mally takes a bad knock but only a free kick is given, however another quick break sees Mike B grab another 3-0 and the ref blows for full time.
It’s over and we know we are in the Plate competition...we’d been planning this from the start of the day as it was our best chance of silverware...serious heads on now!!
Quarter Final – JMS The knockout stage starts as JMS kick off...game on. The first shot by JMS balloons over and then new acquisition Nick de Long, straight off the plane after winning the Kentish Cup with Combined Services, is yellow carded when he rugby tackles a JMS player. He actually got turned, fell over his own legs, dived and brought down their player. He picked himself up and played on but... A corner to the RAF and Thommo takes. He swings it in and it swings and swings and hits the far post and in...direct from the corner...1-0. A lack of chat then almost costs the RAF dear as two players stand looking at each other as to who should get the ball. The striker nips in but fires over. The RAF are keeping JMS to shooting from distance...good stuff. Another free kick to the RAF but once again the ball rebounds off the post and is cleared. HT 1-0
Good shape from the RAF is keeping JMS at bay and then a great run and shot from Thommo is deflected for a corner. The shape and tactics of this RAF team is causing JMS problems and they can’t break it down. A storming run by Dougie ends with a shot just wide. Time is nearly up when a harmless looking shot from distance loops over everyone and ends up in the corner. The RAF lads can’t believe it, it’s the equaliser and the ref blows...full time!!
Straight into penalties and it’s sudden death...RAF first to go... Mike B - Goal JMS - Goal Thommo - Goal JMS - Goal Bry - Goal JMS - Goal Russ - Goal JMS - Goal Scotty - Goal JMS - Goal Dougie - Goal JMS - Goal Mally - Goal JMS - Goal
No misses...start again
Mike B - Goal JMS - Goal Thommo - Goal JMS - Goal Bry - Goal JMS – Saved...get in Scotty!!!!
We’re in the Semi’s...
Semi Final – Salt Lake The RAF kick off against the team we beat 3-0 in the last game of the groups...can we do it again? A throw in by Salt Lake is intercepted by Thommo who drives into their box and then unleashes a smart shot into the back of the net...1-0 great start. Salt Lake seem better in this game and after a couple of good attacks Scotty is forced into a fine save but the ball unfortunately drops to one of their players and he taps in 1-1. This game is nip and tuck and tit for tat strikes, each over the bar, sees the game finely poised. However just before half time, a great strike across Scotty sees Salt Lake take the lead. HT 1-2.
The second half sees another screamer of a free kick from Thommo fly back off the crossbar and the RAF and playing really well and looking to get back into this. A storming run from Thommo into the opposition box and he’s brought down...Penalty!!! Mike B steps up and smashes it in 2-2. Both teams have given their all in this game and it’s getting scrappy now as both teams tire. A fingertip save from Scotty keeps the scores level and that’s it...sudden death penalties again. FT 2-2
Penalties...RAF to go first again...
Mike B - Goal Salt Lake – Missed...ballooned over
YEEEEEEESSSSSSS...we’re in the FINAL!!!!!
The Final – Shadwell (15 minutes each way) Drew 1-1 in the league format but deserved more...let’s put that right now. The first attempt is from the RAF but Russ fires over. This may be a final but both sides are very tired and the game is stale as neither side want to make a mistake. Thommo fires over and then wide, a header by Shadwell goes narrowly wide. After a slow, slow build up the RAF win a corner but it comes in just too high for Mally to capitalise. A double step over by Russ brings applause from the huge crowdwatching, who definitely want an RAF win, but it also brings an end to the first half. HT 0-0.
The second half sees Bry fire wide and a couple of Shadwell chances early on and Shadwell are taking advantage of the rolling subs rule, a luxury the RAF don’t have. A small squad and injuries has taken a heavy toll but the RAF don’t give in!! As the full time whistle beckons, a last chance for the RAF when following a corner, the ball bounces around in the Shadwell box. Finally the keeper gets his hands on the ball and the whistle goes...all square.
FT 0-0 and it’s penalties again but this time it’s 5 apiece before sudden death...RAF first again...
Mike B - Goal Shadwell - Missed...Scotty saves!!! Thommo - Goal Shadwell - Goal Bry - Goal Shadwell - Goal Russ - Missed...wide Shadwell - Goal Scotty - Goal Shadwell - Missed...over the bar!!
GET IN....WE’VE ONLY GONE AND WON IT!!!!
AND...young Mike Bartley wins Player of the Tournament!!!
The Players were all brilliant and so too the support team of Matt Beattie, Daz Bray, Andrew McCulloch, Jim Sheehan and Mickey Bartley...well done to all. The Players at some stage during the 3 days were Scott Taylor, Mally Mallinson, Alan Dales, Neil Thomas, Russ Edwards, Dougie Coull, Jon Letch, Brian Kyall, Mark Browse, Chubbs Clive, Nick de Long, Michael Bartley.
And thanks to the WAGS ably looked after by Paul Wheable and Geoff Hancocks!!
Oh yes, before I go, I did say I’d tell you how good that Cypriot International was...well, the runner up in the Goalscorer competition scored 13 goals...the Cypriot guy won with 31!!!
and the update on Ding Dong was he had broken his hand and a rib in his rugby tackle but he played on...”PLAY UP AIR FORCE!!”